Oppo Neo 5 review: $219 buys a whole lot of phone

The cheapest 4G smartphone in Australia reviewed

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Oppo Neo 5
  • Oppo Neo 5
  • Oppo Neo 5
  • Oppo Neo 5
  • Expert Rating

    3.50 / 5

Pros

  • Inexpensive
  • Better than expected camera
  • 4G

Cons

  • Low resolution screen
  • 4GB of internal storage
  • Outdated OS

Would you buy this?

Hype surrounded Kogan’s Agora 4G in August. Kogan touted it was the cheapest smartphone with 4G Internet money could buy in Australia.

One month later and the Agora 4G was knocked clean off its mantle by Australian newcomer Oppo. The Chinese smartphone company soft launched in early September by selling a variety of smartphones on its website.

Good Gear Guide reviewed the Oppo Find 7 immediately following the launch. Now we’ve gone hard to the other end of the spectrum with the Oppo Neo 5, which at $219, remains the cheapest 4G smartphone in Australia.

Who makes the better “cheapest 4G smartphone”?

Every now and then we cross paths with a budget smartphone built well enough to replace the flagships from Apple and Samsung. Motorola’s Moto G and Nokia’s Lumia 635 comes to mind first. The Oppo Neo 5 doesn’t make this list.

Whereas those smartphone feel like great value, the constraints of the Neo 5’s low price tag grossly stand out. Glittered plastic accounts for most of its body and the screen does little to elevate the experience. Its 4.5in screen just isn’t sharp enough with a 480x854 resolution and a low 218 pixels-per-inch.

Poor screens can either make or break a deal. Kogan’s Agora 4G, which sells for $229, uses a high definition BenQ panel and has a density of 293 pixels-per-inch. The Agora 4G’s display makes it worthwhile to spend an extra $10.

Internal hardware tells a similar story. The Neo 5, like the Agora 4G, has a 1.2GHz quad-core CPU and 1GB of RAM, but it has less internal storage at 4GB. Lovers of music looking for an mp3 counterpart will have to fork out money for a microSD card.

Read more: Top five budget smartphones money can buy (Part I, 2014)

The same goes for people interested in taking photos and recording videos. The Neo 5’s rear camera, although held back by some bleeding and image noise, is a noteworthy inclusion for such an inexpensive smartphone. (It easily outperforms Kogan’s Agora 4G and HTC’s $312 Desire 610.) The camera is a credible reason that could sway people to give the little Oppo.

Taken with the Oppo Neo 5
Taken with the Oppo Neo 5

Read more: BenQ in talks with Australian telcos following Kogan smartphone partnership
The photo above at 100 per cent - Taken with the Oppo Neo 5
The photo above at 100 per cent - Taken with the Oppo Neo 5

The Neo 5 runs the superseded Android 4.3 Jelly Bean, although it’s dressed in Oppo’s Color OS overlay. The software is well styled, feature rich and easy to use, but the comprehensive software will likely suffer from a lack of updates.

Overnight Google announced Android 5.0 Lollipop, and that’s the kind of update that would make your old phone feel new. Odds are the Neo 5 won’t be the beneficiary of such an update, while Motorola’s Moto G could on account of being near-stock.

Read more: Google Android comes to Motorola and LG smartwatches in 2014

Cheaper smartphones than the Neo 5 are available, but none of them are compatible with 4G Internet speeds. Armed with a Telstra SIM and from the comfort of our North Sydney offices, the Neo 5 reached download speeds of 8.68Mbps and upload speeds of 9.52Mbps.

Working in the Neo 5’s favour is its battery life. During our testing it lasted a full 24 hours before needing a charge, and that was without enabling the battery saving mode.

Final thought

The Neo 5 is replete with features in spite of costing a low $219. The camera is a solid performer, it has commendable battery life and fast 4G Internet.

People not interested in taking photos and still want to spend bottom dollar should consider Kogan’s Agora 4G. The screen has a higher resolution and using its near stock version of Android elevates the experience.

BUT, if your budget is a sweet $250, then the first-gen Motorola Moto G (4G edition) remains the way to go. Oppo and Kogan’s phones feel inexpensive; the Moto G does not.

Sample photos

Taken with the Oppo Neo 5
Taken with the Oppo Neo 5

Taken with the Oppo Neo 5
Taken with the Oppo Neo 5

Taken with the Oppo Neo 5
Taken with the Oppo Neo 5
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